Drew Brees has yet to throw an interception this season, and now that his team’s defense is playing better, things are looking up for the New Orleans Saints.
Brees passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Saints to a 20-0 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Brees completed 29-of-41 passes, and the Saints (2-2) shut down the Dolphins (1-2), forcing six punts. It was the Saints’ first shutout since 2012 and the first time Miami has been blanked since 2013.
After losing to the Minnesota Vikings and the New England Patriots, the Saints beat the Carolina Panthers 34-13, and now the Dolphins.
“We’re getting a little bit better each week,” Brees told Fox Sports. “Those first two weeks weren’t what we aspired to be — we played two really good football teams.
“(Since then), basically we’ve had two road wins at Carolina and here against the Dolphins, who have a really good defense and are a really good football team.”
The Dolphins sure didn’t look like a good team on Sunday and were shut down for the second straight week. Last week, the Dolphins lost at the New York Jets and were saved from a shutout on the last play of the game.
They weren’t as fortunate against New Orleans as Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler completed 20-of-28 passes for 164 yards and one interception.
Saints cornerback Ken Crawley came up with that interception. Crawley started in place of P.J. Williams, who was benched as part of an unspecified disciplinary action, according to Fox Sports.
Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, a London native who had three 200-yard games last year, was held to 46 yards on 12 carries.
Each team had the ball just once in the first quarter.
Miami’s drive ended when Cutler tried to connect with tight end Julius Thomas in the end zone. That’s where Crawley outmuscled him for the pick despite a 75-pound weight disadvantage.
“I got some pressure,” said Cutler, who will retain his starting job according to head coach Adam Gase. “But I should’ve put that ball a little bit more outside.”
New Orleans’ first drive failed when Wil Lutz missed wide right on a 41-yard field-goal attempt. Lutz, though, redeemed himself with a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, giving New Orleans a 3-0 lead.
The Saints finally put a touchdown drive together, starting the third quarter with an 11-play, 77-yard march. Michael Thomas caught a 3-yard pass from Brees and powered his way into the end zone, giving the Saints a 10-0 lead.
Brees converted a fourth-and-1 on that drive. His quarterback sneak gave New Orleans the first down by just a couple of inches.
The Dolphins had the ball for just 3:51 in the third quarter. The Saints took advantage of a tired Dolphins defense, mounting another drive that resulted in a Lutz field goal, this one a 45-yarder with 12:32 left in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans capped the scoring with another 11-play drive, this one for 87 yards. Brees capped it with a 12-yard shovel pass to running back Alvin Kamara.
“We had a great game plan,” Brees said. “This was a tough trip to make across the pond, but we were prepared.
“Our defense played outstanding. On offense, we sustained drives, converted third downs, got points when we needed to, possessed the ball and did all the things to play winning football.”
Gase, whose team started 1-4 last year before turning it around and making the playoffs, said he has yet to figure out what is wrong with his offense.
“We’re going to have to watch this (video) and see where our issues are coming from,” Gase said. “We’re trying to figure out: Is it one thing? Is it multiple guys? Is it the scheme? Is it the play calls?
“I know we’re better than what we’ve done the past two games. Three games in, I thought we’d have better results.”
NOTES: Dolphins CB Xavier Howard left the game in the fourth quarter due to an unspecified injury. Dolphins LB Mike Hull (shoulder) was also forced out. ... Saints TE Josh Hill sustained a possible concussion. ... Saints RT Zach Strief missed practices this week due to an injury to his right knee, and he left the game in the fourth quarter after a collision with Dolphins DE Charles Harris. The diagnosis was an injury to that same knee. ... New Orleans, already without LT Terron Armstead, moved first-round pick Ryan Ramczyk to right tackle and Senio Kelemete to the left side. ... Saints OLB Alex Anzalone (shoulder) was injured in the first quarter and did not return. ... Dolphins rookie CB Cordrea Tankersley made his NFL debut, starting the game. Tankersley, who was a third-round pick out of Clemson, replaced veteran Byron Maxwell (hamstring). ... The Saints have a bye before playing their next game, Oct. 15 against the visiting Detroit Lions. ... Miami doesn’t have the luxury of a bye. The Dolphins will make the long trip home and play host to the Tennessee Titans this coming Sunday.